LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) – A lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the 3rd District of New Mexico by the New Mexico State basketball players at the center of the hazing allegations that sent the university’s basketball into a tailspin earlier this year.

William “Deuce” Benjamin Jr., his father, William Benjamin, and former NMSU player Shakiru ‘Shak’ Odunewu filed a lawsuit against The Board of Regents of New Mexico State University, former Men’s Basketball Coach Greg Heiar, Assistant Coach Dominique Taylor, and three former NMSU players – Kim Aiken Jr., Doctor Bradley, and DeShawndre Washington – alleging hazing and sexual assault within the program by the three named players.

The lawsuit alleges that the coaching staff were alerted about the allegations as early as Nov. 12, 2022, and did nothing to intervene.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case at this time, but it has been referred to the New Mexico Attorney General for possible criminal charges.

“I think our lawsuit really outlines where we believe the school was deficient in handling this, where the coaching staff was deficient and where we believe they both acted inappropriately and failed to act,” said Joleen Youngers, the attorney for the Benjamin family. “Had they handled it correctly, we very well may not be where we’re at right now.”

Both Benjamin and Odunewu have entered the NCAA Transfer Portal; Benjamin was the latest to enter on Tuesday. Of the three players accused in the lawsuit, Bradley entered the portal and had already found a new home, committing to Northern Illinois.

Aiken Jr. and Washington had not made any future plans public at the time of the lawsuit, although there were reports last month that Washington intended to enter his name in the NBA Draft

It remains unclear what may happen to the five men named in the lawsuits moving forward. Heiar and Taylor have – to this point – not received new jobs coaching at the collegiate level.

One incident outlined in the lawsuit alleges Deuce Benjamin was pulled into a hotel room during a road game with other players and some young women. Allegedly Washington told Deuce to “pull your a** out.” When he told them no, Washington allegedly said, “Do it, or I will grab your {expletive}” Deuce alleges Washington then forcefully grabbed his scrotum, inflicting pain and causing humiliation. The incident occurred in front of several women, which Deuce claims only exacerbated the feeling of degradation.

Odunewu also alleges a pattern of humiliation, violent behavior, and unwanted touch by the trio of players in the suit. During one incident in the Summer of 2022, Odunewu alleges Aiken Jr. and Bradley ripped the shower curtain back and forced him to spin around and do squats as they slapped his buttocks. The lawsuit alleges that Bradley filmed the incident on his cell phone.

In a separate incident during the bus ride to play UTEP in El Paso on November 12, 2022, Odunewu alleges Washington, Aiken Jr., and Bradley tackled him on the bus and pulled his pants and underwear down to his ankles. He claims he was held face down and could not speak or ask for help because the three held their hands over his mouth. He claims they continued to digitally sodomize him and grope his genitals.

The 28-page lawsuit also alleges a complete lack of institutional control by Coach Greg Heiar and Assistant Coach Dominique Taylor. In particular, Odunewu claims all NMSU coaching staff were on the bus at the time of the incident and failed to supervise players. In response to the alleged bus assault, one of the coaches turned around and yelled, “Stop playing around.”

The incident was reported to a former coach a few days after the incident. Odunewu claims he reported the incident to Heiar and Taylor, asking them to intervene, and claimed Taylor laughed and said, “What do you want me to do?”

The lawsuit also alleges that by no later than Nov. 12, 2022, NMSU, Heiar and Taylor, “had knowledge and notice that Shak Odunewu was a victim of sexual assault and rape perpetrated on him by Aiken, Bradley and Washington.” It also alleges that NMSU was put on notice that he was not the only victim.

By no later than Nov. 15, the lawsuit alleges that NMSU had, “actual knowledge of, and was deliberately indifferent to, the inappropriate harassment, attacks, sexual assaults and batteries, that Aiken Jr., Bradley and Washington perpetrated on certain members of the basketball team.”

The lawsuit also alleges that there were at least two other victims that were unnamed in the suit, including one other player and one staff member. It also alleges that Heiar and Taylor were aware of prior inappropriate behavior by Aiken Jr. against other students, but does not specify what, exactly, that might be.

Aiken Jr. did not play in any games for NMSU during the 2022-23 season as Heiar and his staff worked to get him an eligibility waiver from the NCAA. As KTSM reported in February, the NCAA denied all waivers for Aiken Jr. and sources told KTSM throughout the process that Aiken Jr.’s eligibility waiver had more to do with his last school, Arizona, than the NCAA at large.

An open records request filed by KTSM with the University of Arizona in an attempt to access Aiken Jr.’s records was denied last month.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are requesting “reasonable compensation for their damages” against the individuals and entities named in the suit.

The NMSU men’s basketball program was shut down on Feb. 12, 2023, after the hazing allegations were initially reported to NMSU Police. Heiar was officially fired and his coaching staff placed on paid administrative leave on Feb. 14.

The lawsuit alleges that William Benjamin Sr. reached out to Heiar and NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia to attempt to alert them to what had been happening, but that they did not return his phone calls.

One day later, Deuce went to the NMSU campus police to file a report, which resulted in the rest of the dominoes to fall.

William Benjamin Sr. is a former NMSU basketball standout himself, who was inducted into the NMSU Athletics Hall of Fame last year. He is also the head coach for the Las Cruces High School boys basketball team.

Benjamin told KTSM on Wednesday that his opinion of his alma mater had changed because of the incidents of the last few months. He said he hopes the lawsuit will help ensure the safety of future players.

“It’s just really disappointing that we have to talk about this and go through this,” Benjamin said. “I hope it brings awareness to the importance of this thing not happening. The behavior wasn’t right and we just don’t want to see this happen again to anybody.”

KTSM has reached out to New Mexico State University; Heiar and Taylor; and all three players alleged to have committed the acts. As of early afternoon on Wednesday, Bradley was the only defendant player or coach to reply, referring KTSM to his lawyer.

NMSU provided KTSM with the following statement: “While NMSU does not comment on pending litigation, we want to assure everyone that this issue is being taken seriously. As we announced earlier this year, the university is working with Greenberg Traurig to look into these allegations. Their work is underway and running in parallel to our own internal investigation into this matter.”

According to the lawsuit, NMSU’s investigation spoke with Odunewu and detailed his allegations and said that he reported his accusations to the coaching staff, including Heiar. As of the filing of the lawsuit, the school had not spoken to Deuce Benjamin.